18 deaths in Montecito mudslide tragedy

-  “Our hearts break for our community. There are just no words,” said Jason Copus, Sales and Marketing Director for the Montecito Inn. No words to describe the absolute devastation in this small coastal community when tons of mud, debris and rocks came crashing down Tuesday morning. Copus says he experienced it firsthand.

“It’s a whole different perspective from what you’re seeing on TV. You can’t grasp it. You know when your down here. You’re just shell shocked that it happened to your little small community that you never thought would experience something like this,” said Copus. 
 

 

Copus got the call early Tuesday morning that the inn might be in trouble. He rushed there to help guests, many who had evacuated there to escape the impending rainstorm. He described the frightening scenario as it unfolded.

“At that time, a police officer was driving very fast down Olive Mill Road, yelling at them to get inside….a flood is coming...and then soon after a large amount of mud and debris were going down olive mill road.”

Days later, in the aftermath, some 65 homes completely destroyed, with more than 460 damaged. Hundreds of rescue crews from around the state are working to clear debris.  Canine units are also helping search for survivors but with each day passing day hope dwindles. The Montecito Inn suffered minor damage and also later ended up getting evacuated. With cleanup underway, Copus understands just how fortunate he is.

“It’s been an emotional process. It’s been stressful, and I’m not affected as much as other people are, so I can’t imagine what other people are going through.”

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